when i was a child i didn't live in a household where alarm systems were needed to prevent someone from entering your house. i didn't go to bed making sure all the doors and windows were locked and secure to prevent someone from coming into to your home while you were sleeping. as i got abit older if i wanted to go outside at night, i wasn't concerned about walking down the street, being robbed or being the victim of a shooting. when i returned home i didn't look over my shoulder to see if someone was following me or maybe walking abit too close when i approached the front door. i slept peacefully, knowing my home was safe and I was safe in my home. when i awoke the next morning, if the news was being broadcast on television it didn't contain a story of yet another shooting, another robbery or another death in the city i lived in.
as i grew older i wasn't inundated with stories of homeless men, women and children living on the streets of the city where i lived and worked. i wasn't aware of nor did i see people walking the street with backpacks, shopping carts or suitcases with their life's belongings tucked inside. i don't remember reading stories of hungry families struggling to obtain food for another day. i do remember once a month an older woman whom i was vaguely familiar with visiting the equivalent of a welfare office to obtain the monthly allowance of cheese and other items offered to those who were in a difficult financial situation. i remember every now and then seeing someone with food stamps in the grocery store, but i never gave them much thought, except for the fact that the person seemed abit anxious and maybe alittle embarrassed to be using them. homelessness was something i never even thought about or was aware of until later in life. i never saw it, never witnessed it, never knew anyone that had experienced it. at some point i do remember seeing during the day, on my commute to work, people that were homeless. some were pushing a shopping cart, some laying or sitting on a bench, some walking the street...they were visible....very visible...and obviously homeless. but i never considered what they did at nite or during the winter or during the rain or any other time. somehow i just took it for granted they had a shelter or a home somewhere to return to at nite. i do remember some poor people that i was familiar with, but they had a home, one or both parents made a living somehow , and their very basic needs seemed to be met.
when i attended school i was not once worried about my safety. the possibility of an armed intruder was never a concern. when i went to college, the thought of my fellow students on campus being hungry never occurred to me and i don't remember once hearing about one that couldn't afford food. there were programs to help those who had financial needs attending college, but the thought of on campus food banks, students not eating but once daily, and those who were concerned about their next meal never entered my mind.
after college when i entered the work force, unemployment was never a topic i considered. i didn't know anyone who wanted to work that couldn't find a job. i didn't know of anyone who had been laid off and wasn't even sure what the process or the meaning of that term was. i never thought about it. people that i worked with only left when they had an opportunity for advancement or more money. usually it was because of a better long term opportunity, money was seldom the issue when someone left the company. the topics of down sizing, lay offs, bankruptcy, buy outs and out sourcing were never heard, spoken of or thought about. they weren't an issue. unemployment was rare. if a company did close a plant it was usually because the plant had aged beyond the point of efficiency and the owner or owners of the plant didn't want to invest millions into upgrading the operation. it was cheaper to build a new plant somewhere else or just consolidate the operation into another location. the workers usually were concerned for a brief period of time, but in general all of them found employment at another company. this was true in sales, manufacturing, service and all the other areas of employment that i can remember.
i never thought about politics or the american governmental system much. i watched the news, read the papers and now and then read an article in a magazine. but i never considered that politicians would tell anything but the truth. i never considered them doing anything except what was in the best interest of the country and the city i lived in. i trusted our local government and our national leaders to make sound policy based on what was beneficial for america and my city. any military action that was considered was considered to be made only for the safety and in the best interest and survival of our country and our way of life.
today...america has truly been transformed. it seemed to happen around me while i was not aware. our homes are protected by alarm systems, lights, and often firearms. we no longer walk the streets of our city at night without trepidation and fear of being a victim of crime. we no longer enter our cities at nite without the very real concern that we could be the victim of gunfire...or worse. when we wake in the morning the news is filled with stories of robbery, home invasion, rape, murder, or some other terrible occurrence. today we not only hear of it in other parts of the country or the world but in our own city...often in our own neighborhoods....too many times in the schools our children attend and are suppose to be safe in.
today...every day....i read about and hear about hunger, poverty and the homeless. millions of men, women and children are experiencing or on the verge of experiencing these unacceptable and unforgivable issues. i read about , hear about and witness those who are homeless. these people are from every walk of life, from every level of education, and from every area in the country. they are black, white, brown, young, old, mentally ill, and those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. hunger is an issue like never before. poverty is growing and becoming an accepted part of american life. unemployment is too prevalent and everyone...no matter what field or level of technical expertise....is concerned with it and if it will happen to them. the political system is so corrupt and so inefficient and so partisan that it no longer represents the american people. their goals and their purpose no longer seem to be to conduct their business in the interest of the american people but only those of their own party or their current platform....regardless of the outcome and its effect on their constituents. they are no longer officials who we respect and trust....but have become someone that causes us to question their motives, their behaviors and their true hidden agendas. we elect them...but we don't trust them...and we aren't confident in their abilities to serve us.
this morning i was thinking about america then and america today. perhaps, america has been transformed. perhaps it has transformed from a simple, caring, compassionate country that the world envied and admired, into a complicated, cold and unforgiving country that now the world looks at with a wary eye. if this is true....we have ourselves to hold accountable. if america has transformed....we have transformed. we are america. noone can transform us without our knowledge and without our willingness to do so. if it's true that america has been transformed and if it's true that we are no longer satisfied with our country, then only we can halt that transformation and begin again to be the country we once were. noone.....no politician...no president....no political party.....no corporation....no religious organization or anyone or anything...can transform america without our direct or explicitt consent.
i liked the old america. i'm not so sure about the transformed america. perhaps this year in particular....election year....we should begin to transform ourselves again. or maybe we need to regress for now...back to the america i once knew. if you do nothing else in November...help begin the transformation back to our America. vote....like you love it.
see you around town